A couple of things happened recently that prompted me to reflect on my Not for Profit Board work and what it means to me. Firstly, I responded to a question from a young woman who I mentor, which prompted an interesting conversation about what was involved with being on a Board. And secondly when I sent my apologies for a Board meeting for the first time in over two years I realised I genuinely regretted missing the meeting.
I love my Board work. I’m particularly lucky as the Board I’m on is extremely well run, which is probably why I honestly like going to Board meetings. I enjoy the discussions, the opportunity to learn new things, the exposure to different points of view from the other Board members and the feeling that I am contributing in some small way to a valuable organisation that does excellent work.
I absolutely recommend serving on a Not for Profit Board and here’s why:
It adds value
You can add value to the Board, the organisation and sometimes even the sector. You can bring your expertise, your skills, your network, your abilities, your energy and your commitment to the table. You don’t need to be an expert on being a Board member or on the organisation – that can be taught. You just need to be prepared to add value to the discussion and the work. And adding value is a two-way street as being on a Board adds value to you. You learn about an organisation, about the Not for Profit sector, about the lives and needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our community. You gain valuable skills in strategy and planning at an organisational level, in negotiation and in effective teamwork. You also have exposure to the knowledge, experience and opinions of the other board members. You give, you learn, you belong… what’s not to like?
The work you do as a Board member matters to the organisation, to the Not for Profit sector and to our community. Organisations that have an effective Board, good governance, good processes, healthy business practices and clear vision are more likely to survive, thrive and continue to contribute in society. Being apart of something that matters is a joy and a privilege.
It provides perspective
We can all get bound up in our own job, own profession, own company and own issues. There aren’t many opportunities in life to sit down on a regular basis and have discussions with quite different people from a variety of sectors, professions and roles, many of whom will contribute a completely different perspective to the issue at hand. Many Boards now include members with lived experience to make sure their client base is adequately represented in the decision making process. They too can provide a whole other perspective that you may not have been exposed to before.
I encourage you to consider a Not for Profit Board. I particularly encourage more women to get involved because, as we know, they are woefully under-represented on Australian boards. Boards need diversity – different skills, experiences, genders, ages, backgrounds, cultures and abilities. If you want more information, do what my mentee did – ask someone you know who is on a Not for Profit Board what they like about their Board work. Their answers may well be different to mine, but I bet it will be an interesting conversation.